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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Nigro Deliver Remarks at Funeral for FDNY Lieutenant Brian J. Sullivan

August 16, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: We’re all gathered today to mourn together, and all of New York City mourns today because we've lost such a good man. We've lost a hero. Lieutenant Brian Sullivan truly represented the best of us. 27 years – a very long time – 27 years, Brian gave his heart and soul to the people of our city, protecting us, serving us there in every moment, no matter how difficult – that is the measure of this good man. We're all here to support this family and our hearts are with this family today – to his loving wife Irene, who told me last night she knew him even before he was a firefighter, every step of the way on this journey; to his daughters Nicole and Samantha, the lights of his life – he loved you all so much. He talked about you all the time. I've heard the stories of how he loved to talk about how proud he was of his girls, how much he loved his family. I want to extend my condolences to the entire Sullivan family, to his sister Catherine, his brothers, John and Daniel, his said entire extended family, and to that strong second family, the FDNY that feels this lost so deeply today, especially his fellow firefighters at Ladder 122 in his home borough of Brooklyn; at Squad Company 252 in Brooklyn; in Squad Company 41 in the Bronx, where he served briefly in 2004 and came back five years ago. I think we've all heard about Brian's bravery. You've all heard how he responded to seven emergencies, including medical calls during his last 24 hour tour; how responded to three fires in three days. And we heard the stories of a man who was there to serve others no matter what he confronted. Even though he was in pain on that last tour, he continued to respond to those calls selflessly.

This is the man we have all come to know – brave, dedicated, putting others always above himself. Now, we’re all experiencing this pain and this sorrow, but I could see at the wake yesterday the joy that this good man brought to so many, the joy with which he lived his life. Look at this photo on this program, look at that smile, look at the joy, the way he could light up a room. Irene told me about their trip to Ireland, something Brian had dreamed of that came true and how important that was to him. And she showed me a photo that she cherishes – Brian made fun of that famous ad series, Got Milk? But instead, he had the foam of a Guinness on his mustache and he said, Got Guinness?


This is a man who truly lived, who loved his family, loved his life, loved his brothers and sisters in this department. He was always willing to lend a hand around the firehouse. He was a carpenter before he joined the FDNY, and he knew what he was doing, and he was happy to show others. He was a natural-born leader. He was a natural-born teacher. He taught fellow firefighters at the Rock, showed people the right way to do things. As a member of Special Operations, he was trained to handle the most difficult situations and he was up to every challenge. And we have to remember that someone as good, as committed as Brian would meet his fellow New Yorkers not on a typical day, but often on the hardest day of their life when they needed Brian, and he was the right man every time. One fellow firefighter recalled just a few weeks ago, Brian was called to a very, very challenging situation in the Bronx. Late at night, after midnight, a man tried climbing a fence, he slipped and he was impaled – a very, very dangerous situation where any number of things could have gone wrong. But in that rescue, Brian was the one who was cool under pressure. He was the one that made sure things were done the right way. He was the one who made sure this man was saved. And people have told me, it seemed like no matter what the situation, Brian knew exactly what to do. That's what's even more striking is he never boasted about it. He had a humility about him that earned so much respect and so much admiration from everyone around him. 

Brian now joins a group of noble men and women as the 1,153rd member of the FDNY to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, and we feel their loss every day. Every one of them has given their all to this city. And we celebrate that Brian was someone who answered this call, this noble call to join the FDNY, that Brian epitomized all that was good about this department, that anyone that knew him was better for it.

As I conclude, I want to say to Nicole and Samantha – none of us can understand the pain you're going through today, but I can say one thing with assurance and very personally. I lost my dad at almost the exact same point in life that you have, and the good that your father gave you never goes away, the inspiration, the example, you’ll carry that with you, knowing that you are the daughters of such a good man that will give you spirit, that will give you hope even in the toughest moments. You'll know there's an angel there on your shoulder. 

On behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers, I offered my deepest condolences to this good family, to all the brave men and women of the FDNY, and to everyone who had the privilege of knowing Brian. God bless you all. 


Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro: One week ago, Lieutenant Brian Sullivan had just completed a 24 hour tour at Squad 41, his firehouse in the Bronx. He came to that company with years of experience as a firefighter and as a lieutenant, and they were fortunate to have a fire officer of Brian's caliber and his character. Fires, collapses, confined space rescues and intricate operations – these dangerous and hazardous incidents were Brian's specialties. He had spent years learning, working hard, and taking additional training, studying, practicing, and perfecting his abilities so that he would always be ready to save someone in a perilous situation. And as a fire officer, he was as good as they come. 

Lieutenant Brian Sullivan didn't just learn, he taught as well, bringing new members along and drilling with them, especially those new to Special Operations. Brian understood the critically important role he and his fellow members played in the FDNY’s lifesaving mission. Chiefs and captains, including his own captain, all looked up to him. They revered him. He had a leadership quality that far superseded his rank and he kept his firefighters safe on every tour. The job of saving others responding to fires and countless emergencies over the years is truly special, but it's also incredibly stressful and it takes a physical toll on even the strongest and bravest individuals. Brian carried tremendous responsibility on his broad shoulders, leading from the front, always setting an example for others to follow, and always with a smile on his face. 

One week ago, on Brian's last tour, he led the highly trained members of Squad 41 on numerous medical calls, emergencies, and a fire in a Bronx apartment. On each call, Brian was in the officer's seat leading the members toward danger and toward those who needed help. That fire was one of three fires he responded to in that week. In his final days, he was doing the job he loved rescuing others and protecting life and property. For almost three decades, he was in New York City firefighter, and, as my good friend, our former Chief of Department, Pete Ganci, famously said, it doesn't get any better than that. He will never be forgotten. We will honor him. We will remember all the good he did. And our department will always hold the Sullivan family in our hearts. 

God bless Lieutenant Brian Sullivan. God bless the Sullivan family. And may God continue to bless the FDNY.

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